Rachel Dixon Redhill sprint triathlon 2018 (first timer)

How I found myself doing my first triathlon at the age of 44 is a good question!

July 2017 and a long – term running injury found me ploughing up and down Horley pool in search of some sort of sanity, so when I heard that open water swimming was a possibility at Mercers lake, I jumped at the chance. I was informed that I needed to be a member of tri surrey to make this possible and before I knew it I was not only swimming in Mercers lake but training with them weekly in the pool too.

I received brilliant swim technique coaching in the pool and soon found myself joining in spin sessions afterwards which was great fun. Several months in I got the all clear to start running again and I started to wonder if a triathlon would actually be something I could achieve, the only thing that was missing was the bike!

By the end of 2017 I had a second – hand road bike, but no idea how to ride it! After a cold winter I tentatively started to ride in spring 2018 and even felt brave enough to join the club rides. My fellow triathletes (though I couldn’t quite call myself one yet), were extremely encouraging and when I decided to bite the bullet and apply for Redhill Triathlon, I had lots of race day  tips, including Don’t touch your bike before you have  your helmet on, put talc in your socks and on the bike route just keep turning left!


Race Day:

750 metre open water swim, 20 k bike, 5 k run. I knew I could do them individually, it was just a matter of stringing them together and ideally not falling off the bike.

It was a roasting hot day and after getting up at silly o ‘clock I nervously arrived at Mercers park and met a fellow triathlete (I was almost one), who helped me use car keys to attach my racer number to my race belt, a skill I needed to perfect.

Lining up on the bank we watched the men’s wave first then it was time for the women. I placed myself some where in the middle and hoped for the best!

After a fleeting ‘I’m not sure if I can do this ‘, I kept going and before I knew it, was running up the bank with shouts of support from Marshalls and spectators. Transition one went without a hitch. I managed to find my bike and follow protocol, pulling a tri surrey vest on top of my tri suit which I was hoping would get me an extra cheer or two!

The bike route, I knew from practice, was what I had heard described as ‘lumpy’ .Once up church hill, fuelled by adrenaline, it was down the other side, through some temporary traffic light and along the lanes. Again practice had made me aware of the main pot holes to avoid and Marshalls on the junctions guided those who were new to the course. There was more than one hill, but sufficient down-hill and flat in which to recover.

Coming back into Mercers park (to more cheers), time to park the bike and run! I had been warned about heavy legs, as though wading through treacle and it definitely was, however this soon passed and the run route was lined with spectators and Marshalls. Two laps actually flew by and a quick check to make sure where the finish was, saw me home.

My overall time was 139.36, which I was really chuffed with. The photos attached show me grinning at every stage and I felt a great sense of achievement. Only when I got home did I realise that the vest I had borrowed, I had thrown on back to front, something to work on for next time!, which was already in the planning..